In most manufacturing processes, the main focus as far as safety regulations are concerned is to detect potential danger areas where material can ignite and lead to fires, or even explosions, within the system.

To protect production and manufacturing equipment, spark detection and spark extinguishing systems have been the norm for years. When installed and maintained professionally, these safety systems have proved themselves worldwide numerous times, safeguarding production and equipment.

The basic function of a spark detection and spark extinguishing system hasn’t changed since it was launched to the market in the beginning of the 1970s.

Sensitive sensors detect sparks and burning embers or particles, which are then extinguished automatically by a water spray system, firetrap, diversion gate or another extinguishing medium to prevent fires or dust explosions in downstream plant areas. The spark detection range affords protection to planers, saws, milling, sieving and drying and storage systems, as well as pneumatic and conveying transport systems.

Immediate detection

The aim is to detect sparks and ignition sources and then, within milliseconds, activate the extinguishing process by opening specially designed fast-activating valves and spraying a burst of water into the affected area.

Equipment manufacturers certified for this process will calculate the distance between the detection of the ignition source and the positioning of extinguishing devices, as well as the quantity of water to be used.

When all safety components in the system are working as designed, it ensures that potential ignition sources aren’t transported downstream to filters, silos, bunkers, sieves and so on.

A modern spark detection and extinguishing system can protect more than 100 areas and will work automatically. Most production processes can continue without interruption although, if continuous sparks are detected, the control system is able to shut down processes to enable further investigation.

Continuous monitoring

The system continuously monitors itself and carries out a test of all critical components, ensuring optimum functionality and reliability. Monitoring of the components is important, but so is the monitoring of the process the system initiates when sparks are detected and extinguished. When an ignition source is detected, the complete process that leads to its extinguishing is analysed and recorded and the system user is informed of all functions that aren’t working as designed.

Messages are displayed in real time and visual form, as well as in the form of output signals, for the appropriate actions that have to be initiated to influence the production process. The responses of the operating staff to a detection and extinguishment are also analysed and recorded.

Information gathered during an incident can be analysed in order to gain knowledge of danger areas within the production line and can signal the need to service the detection equipment or to train staff.

The recording of all events is carried out to the millisecond and this extremely accurate recording of events for more than 100 areas in one central control unit means that it is possible to make a precise analysis of events, even if spark detection and extinguishing is carried out in several areas at the same time. The information is stored and can be downloaded from the control unit.

Individual machine shutdowns

Should the quantity of sparks detected over a certain time period exceed a pre-programmed threshold, the system can be configured to shut down an individual production machine. This then allows an investigation to be carried out and corrective actions taken. However, during this event the system continues to extinguish the excessive sparks.

Spark detection and spark extinguishing systems are very suitable technical devices, detecting ignition sources fast, extinguishing them reliably through exactly aimed extinguishing actions in a locally limited area with a minimal use of water. They are very well suited to detecting possible ignition sources or fires at a very early stage and to extinguish them, hence safeguarding production. These systems are designed to extinguish ignition sources before they turn into critical situations such as fires or explosions.